Connected Sports Conference: Social-Media Tools Drive First-Screen Engagement
Compared with the decades-long history of television broadcast, social-media tools like Facebook and Twitter — turning nine and seven years old, respectively, this year — are relative newcomers to the scene. But, as the number of users for these platforms and others skyrockets, it’s increasingly difficult to imagine a world without likes, hashtags, and thinking in 140 characters or less.
At SVG’s inaugural Connected Sports Conference this week in New York City, leading technology vendors convened to discuss how they are developing tools to drive social-media engagement and integrate the second-screen experience into the first-screen production.
“Broadcasters are starting to pay attention,” said Scott Bowditch, marketing product manager, Ross Video. “This is a real thing, not just a fad that’s going to go away.”
Ross Video, a veteran of first-screen production, entered the second-screen space a few years ago, adding a plug-in to its OverDrive production-automation tool to allow users to automatically clip video for the Web without manual intervention or delay. Ross furthered its commitment to the space with Inception, a social-media–management tool that connects newsrooms directly to the Web.
Bowditch cautioned against a single-minded focus on monetization in integrating social media into video production.
“Everybody’s focused on monetizing social media,” he explained. “I don’t think that’s necessarily possible. If we try and make social media too commercial, the people we’re trying to attract won’t use it.
“The click through is where the monetization happens,” he continued. “The problem is, when we’re trying to talk about social-media tools and integrating social-media tools into a business or production stream, people are looking for the straight line between the tool they’re about to buy and the return on that investment, and it’s not necessarily there. … That’s one of the big challenges with monetizing social media. It’s not monetizing social media; it’s monetizing digital.”
Rather than look for ways to monetize social media per se, broadcasters are using social-media tools to capture the conversation on secondary screens and drive engagement with the primary screen. Mass Relevance enables users to incorporate social-media platforms into marketing strategies through tools that aggregate, filter, and redisplay content on any digital property.
“Broadcasts today are doing a great job of reflecting back the conversation,” said Kevin Daniels, director of product management, Mass Relevance. “An interesting tweet, an interesting post comes through, [and] they’re reflecting it back and making their shows more entertaining.”
Tapping into the Facebook and Twitter conversation isn’t the only way to engage viewers on the second screen. Ooyala draws from social-media platforms to deliver personalized video experiences across multiple screens.
“Everybody wants audience,” said Jonathan Wilner, VP of product, Ooyala. “The point of all of this is to get people to watch the first screen. … We’re really focused in a different way, which is in driving people to the first screen to consume more video, to have a better more personalized experience. We’re working everywhere to take input from social media [on] what people want to watch, what people are talking about, and personalize the viewing experience based on what we’re seeing. We’re not really focused on trying to drive a distracting experience that takes people away from the broadcast.”
Of course, terms like social media and second screen are not catch-all phrases to describe audience engagement with broadcast television, particularly when mobile devices are increasingly used as primary screens. NeuLion, for example, delivers live and on-demand content to Internet-connected devices — including its successful NHL GameCenter Live, the focus of a Connected Sports Conference case study — not as a complement to the first screen but as a standalone experience.
“We’ve seen a real change in the consumption of digital video,” says Chris Wagner, EVP/co-founder, NeuLion. “[It started as,] let’s just get streaming, let’s just get high quality, let’s just get HD. Now that’s become a requirement. Consumers and fans really expect to have a seamless experience on any device. And high-quality video needs to be live and involve personalization, which is where I think we’re going. What you want to watch, when you want to watch — I think social media is driving a lot of that.”